Church connects to youths with hot chocolate, pastries

Minnehaha Covenant serves treats to kids waiting for bus

It’s never good to miss the school bus, but on Monday mornings it’s double bad if you are a Shaw Middle School student and your bus stop is on the corner of Myrtle and Marietta.

That’s where members of the Minnehaha Covenant Church are serving doughnuts and hot chocolate to students waiting for the bus.

They’ve been doing so for seven years.

“It began at a time when we had a problem with vandalism, we had 12 windows broken with rocks,” said the Rev. Greg Luce.

Instead of cracking down on youth in the neighborhood, Luce decided to reach out and try to connect with the kids.

“I put up a sign that said, ‘free doughnuts and hot chocolate,’ ” Luce said. “And that’s how it all started.”

For three years, Luce and volunteers from Minnehaha Covenant Church, which is on the corner, handed out treats every school day morning. Now it’s every Monday morning.

“My son is in high school now, but when he was in middle school he was there every morning,” said Anita Reynolds, a neighbor and church member. “Mostly, it’s Pastor Greg who takes care of everything and sets up and all that, but we donate the doughnuts and the hot cocoa packages.”

There’s a signup sheet at church and Reynolds said it usually fills up.

“This also makes the church more visible in the neighborhood,” Reynolds said.

She’d certainly like for the program to continue.

“It was a good way to connect with the young people, after the problems with vandalism,” Reynolds said. “We hoped they would feel more of a connection to the church. Feel positive about it and look out for it.”

So far, the program has worked.

“We haven’t had any broken windows, just a little bit of graffiti last summer,” said Reynolds.

Luce said he’d like to expand the program to included STA riders, because there’s a city bus stop on the same corner.

“I always need more volunteers,” Luce said. “It would be nice to include the city bus riders, too.”

The Shaw bus arrives at 8:10 a.m. and Luce is usually there around 7:15 setting up. He said about a dozen students show up on Mondays, but he knows around 30 who live in the area.

“They are here and gone in a flash,” Luce said about the students. “But it’s been a good way for us to connect with everyone.”

Reach Pia Hallenberg Christensen at (509) 459-5427 or piah@spokesman.com

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